Understanding bubble science and beverage flavour

Wednesday, 07 February, 2018

Understanding bubble science and beverage flavour

In spite of the popularity of carbonated drinks, little is known about the chemistry behind the bubbles. Some studies have focused on alcoholic beverages, reporting findings on how carbon dioxide bubbles rise and pop. It is also known that hydrogen bonds within beverage solutions are impacted by additives and other components in the water used in the process.

Now, Yakun Chen, Ji Lv and Kaixin Ren have investigated how drink additives such as sugar, salt and added flavours affect the carbon dioxide and ultimately, the taste of the drink.

The team studied how different flavourings affected the carbon dioxide in champagnes, cola drinks and club sodas by setting up simulations. The group first examined how fast carbon dioxide diffused within each solution. They found that additives like alcohol, table sugar or baking soda would reduce the rate of diffusion, to an extent, which would leave soda fizzy for a longer period of time. The researchers also noted that the simulations showed that as carbon dioxide interacts with additives like sugar, it also interacts with the water that makes up the majority of these beverages. When a drink additive was incorporated, the team noticed that the number of hydrogen bonds decreased with their simulation, ultimately impacting the taste of the drink.

The team has published their results in ACS’s The Journal of Physical Chemistry B and also acknowledges funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

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